4 girls attempt suicide at SAI centre, Ministry launches probe

New Delhi/Alapuzha: In a heartbreaking turn of events, a young athlete died and three of her colleagues were battling for life after they attempted suicide at the Sports Authority of India Centre in Kerala, prompting a stunned Sports Ministry to launch an inquiry.

One of the athletes, a 15-year-old, died and three others, all undergoing training at Water Sports Centre of SAI in Alapuzha, were hospitalised after they ate a poisonous fruit in an apparent suicide pact owing to alleged harassment by seniors.

The Sports Ministry swung into action by ordering an inquiry and directing SAI director General Injeti Srinivas to rush to Kerala for an on the spot assessment.

“I am deeply aggrieved by the incident that has happened in Kerala. The young girl who has died was a very promising sportsperson. It is a big loss to the country in general and Sports Authority of India and sports fraternity in particular.

I convey my condolences to the bereaved family. We will give all possible help to the bereaved family,” Sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal said in a statement.

“Three girls are still undergoing treatment. I pray for their speedy recovery. To provide them the best possible treatment is our top priority. Local police is investigating the matter. I have also directed the director general of SAI to rush to the spot and give me a factual report. I have specifically directed him to ensure that the best possible treatment is made available to the three girls who are undergoing treatment.

“While law will take its own course, at this stage I would only like to say that if anyone from Sports Authority of India is found guilty in connection with this tragic incident, strictest possible action will be taken against him or her,” he added.

The girls are suspected to have consumed the fruit, locally called ‘Othalanga’, at 3pm Wednesday inside the SAI women’s hostel. They were rushed to a hospital around 7pm after they fainted and were later taken to Alapuzha Medical College, where one of them died, the police said.

The condition of the three hospitalised athletes was serious with two of them put on pacemakers. The next 48 hours will be crucial.

The girls were undergoing training at the Water Sports Centre of the SAI at nearby Punnamada. Relatives alleged that the girls were being physically and mentally tortured by some seniors.